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Safe Smiles: What to Do If You Lose a Tooth Playing Sport

boxing gloves and mouth guard

Playing sport is a great way of staying healthy and has lots of physical and psychological benefits. But… accidents can happen. A high impact collision with another player or with a piece of sporting equipment can cause an injury and a surprisingly common one is the loss of one or more teeth. We thought it might be helpful to supply some information about what to do if you are misfortunate enough to lose a tooth whilst playing sport.

Prevention is better than cure

If you are playing contact sport, wear a mouthguard at all times. Research shows that athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth if they do not wear a mouthguard. Because of this, mouthguards are recommended for anybody involved in regular sport.

We advise that you visit your dentist when considering a mouthguard. They will be able to take very detailed impressions of your mouth so that the mouthguard fits comfortably and is able to protect your teeth and gums. 

Dos and Don'ts of sporting tooth loss

If a tooth comes out because of injury when playing a sport, it is important to act fast.  If you can find the tooth and it is clean, put it back into the socket yourself.

Here are some dos and don’ts, starting with the don’ts:

  • Don't panic! In many cases we will be able to restore the existing tooth and, failing that, there are always other options (such as bridges and implants) to fill the gap.
  • Don't hold the tooth by the root, as teeth are surrounded by fragile ligaments which need to be kept intact if the tooth is to be put back in.
  • Don't clean the tooth with disinfectant or water, or let it dry out.
  • Don't put aspirin or clove oil on the wound. Aspirin can increase the amount of bleeding.

Now some things you should definitely do:

  • Find the knocked out tooth and put it straight back into the socket if it will go. If not, put it into a cup of milk or keep it in your mouth to stop it drying out. 
  • Go to a dentist or hospital as soon as possible.
  • Take some painkillers if you need to (but avoid aspirin).

The sooner the tooth is replaced, the better the chances of success. If you have not managed to do it yourself, the dentist will put the tooth back.  They may use a dental splint to fasten the tooth against the teeth on either side.

In most cases this is successful, and once the splint is removed the tooth is stable. However, you will almost certainly need more treatment in the future.

Safe Smiles

We’ve been working with the campaign Safe Smiles to urge people to make safe choices in life and dentistry. Patients at Glow get regular Healthy Mouth Assessments where you'll have a chance to discuss mouthguards and other helpful tips for keeping your smile safe with your dentist.